Scotus0


Game
Company
Game
Location
Played: 09/06/21 Team size: 5 Time taken: ~50:00 Outcome: Successful escape!
plainunoriginal

More Potion Prepping

It’s been a while since I’ve had the pleasure of being locked in a room for an hour, and what better way to get back into the swing of it than a medium-difficulty, magical Breakout with friends?

Story

Sneaking into the emporium to seek the owner’s most powerful potion has triggered a spell, trapping you inside. Brew the potion to escape before they return.

Puzzles

The variety was good, but we didn’t come across anything mind-blowing. They weren’t sequential, which was ideal for our team of 5 since we could split up and work on different things. Players new to Hogwarts-themed rooms will be more impressed by the Emporium of Magic’s puzzles than experienced escapers. We often needed a hint to keep us on the scent (which I blame on the big gap between playing caused by Corona of course). We’d also solved two puzzles without even realising and there were one or two occasions where we (I) hadn’t entered the codes properly…definitely some more post-lockdown rustiness going on there, aha.

Mise-en-scene

The theming left a lot to be desired. More could be done with the space- a couple of dusty bookcases, a desk and an old-looking suitcase does not a magic shop make. The ‘potion-brewing’ corner was nothing more than a bedside table.

Final Comments

This is the fourth magical-themed room I’ve done, and it was by far the weakest.

Played: 12/06/21 Team size: 2 Time taken: 52:08 Outcome: Successful escape!
illogicalbroken techoverpriced

The Temperamental Temple…

I took advantage of an opening offer, getting 20% off the booking.

Story

Venture into the temple and find the Forbidden Eye, a powerful treasure.

Puzzles

The game almost completely revolves around solving number locks, which came across as unimaginative given the setting. Some of them used fiddly components that were difficult to work with and/or interact with other things in the way they’re supposed to. Ambiguity also made the experience less enjoyable, especially in the final puzzle. The owner/host is new to the escape room business- he made that very clear to us- and he was far too trigger happy on the radio, giving us hints when we were still in the process of working things out on several occasions. Post-game, I asked about how it is possible to work out the sequence of numbers for one particular code once we had acquired them, to which the he said trial and error.

Mise-en-scene

The scenery contributed to a jungle temple theme, but a few aspects of decoration were tacky and it felt like light was kept to a minimum to disguise this. Windows that weren’t properly concealed took away from the sense of escapism, and the props were unsurprising.

Final Comments

In a team of two, we tackled this one fairly easily. The room is too cramped to accommodate any more than four people at a push. As a new game, the host asked our opinions of what we liked/didn’t like in order to make it better: I feel that this is something that should be done prior to opening with test teams rather than paying customers. It needs work. Since Cryptic is located in Ashton-under-Lyne, I’d need to be given a much meatier discount code to return and try the other two rooms.

Played: 23/09/20 Team size: 2 Time taken: 70:00 Outcome: Failed :-(

Befuddled Down Baker Street

My final escapade at MoviEscape involved a visit to 221B Baker Street, though I wish I took more than just one comrade for this difficult room.

Story
Find out the location of Sherlock and his kidnapped pals.

Puzzles

There’s nothing massively intuitive in the puzzle department, here. We got off to a speedy start, but then slowed down to an unenjoyable halt. Useful items aren’t just tricky to find- they’re literally camouflaged, which took the fun out of searching for things. I’m sure that one of the items needed for a certain calculation wasn’t present. For one of the last puzzles, the problem-solving required was very difficult to work out without any sort of help. I overthought the penultimate task as a result of becoming overwhelmed by lots of different numbers and not knowing what to do with them. We must have spent a quarter of our time on it, and more or less had to have the answer spelled out to us.

Mise-en-scene

It passed as a detective’s office with its dated wallpaper, record player and Holmes memorabilia. However, the second room was a random and irrelevant space to the story. This is another of MoviEscape’s rooms that uses an egg-timer (grr).

Final Comments
Apparently, all of the games at MoviEscape are intermediate level, but this one was by far the hardest. Our host was apathetic at best.

Played: 23/09/20 Team size: 2 Time taken: ~58:00 Outcome: Successful escape!

Saw It All Before...

As mentioned in another review, I found a deal on Planet Radio Offers that allowed two players to play a room for £20. I bought two of these vouchers, and used one before lockdown. Upon returning to Manchester, it was finally time to cash in the second.

Story
Taken away and locked in a basement, unmask a killer among your fellow kidnappees before the real (?) killer returns. This feels like one of those stories that doesn’t really know what it is. I suppose it’s a Cluedo-ish game set in a Saw-like environment.

 

Puzzles

Basic, basic, basic. A bit of maths here, a bit of UV there. Several of them involved classic games in one way or another, which I suppose ties in with Jigsaw’s most well-known quote: “Do you want to play a game?”. Most of the hints (provided on a screen- over a speaker in ‘The Puzzle Master’s’ voice would have added to the experience) we needed were due to us not looking around the room enough. A ridiculously-thorough search is needed every time something new is opened.

 

Mise-en-scene

A generic, grubby basement that only provided tenuous links to the film it is inspired by. The toilet cubicle had doodles scribbled on it as seen in a secondary school- an addition I didn’t understand. The room lacked references to traps, evil clowns or anything else corresponding to the Saw franchise. It’s not scary, just grotty (the latter comment is not a complaint, as this sort of setting is supposed to be soiled). The further you progress, the more gruesome it gets- thankfully.

 

Final Comments
Quite simply put, it’s not ‘Saw’ enough to justify its name. I’d call it ‘Cesspit Cluedo’ instead.

Played: 14/03/20 Team size: 2 Time taken: 53:49 Outcome: Successful escape!

Stockport Sorcery

I found a deal on Planet Radio Offers that allowed two players to play a room for £20. At a tenner each, it made sense to purchase two so that I could play the four remaining rooms on MoviEscape’s list!

Story
Graduate from the Magic Academy by making potions and casting spells.

Puzzles

The sort you’d expect from a Hogwarts-themed challenge. Merlin’s Academy had the cutesy magical-themed gimmicks that make people throw 5-Star TripAdvisors at it- so don’t expect every lock to be a four-digit number code. We got stuck a few times, but it’s a room that everybody should be able to get through without too much help.

Mise-en-scene

With all the dusty portraits, candles, spell books and potion ingredients you could shake a Nimbus 2000 at, there’s no doubt that it’s an old wizarding school. Although it is to keep in with the setting, I hate it when sand-timers are used as an indicator of time remaining. The hint-giver is an animated little creature.

Final Comments
The last room contains an impressive spectacle- it’s just a shame it appears so late on in the game. You won’t want to take many more than four people for this one.

Played: 14/03/20 Team size: 2 Time taken: N/A Outcome: Failed :-(

Worst. Games Host. Ever.

I found a deal on Planet Radio Offers that allowed two players to play a room for £20. At a tenner each, it made sense to purchase two so that I could play the four remaining rooms on MoviEscape’s list!


Story
Take on the role of a DEA agent and steal all the money stashed away in the meth lab. I thought players would play on the Walter White side, but evidently not!

 

Puzzles

Some were trickier than others and they stuck to a Breaking Bad sort of theme. As with all MoviEscape rooms, looking around for things is paramount. Unfortunately, we got stuck at a certain point, and our inattentive host gave us the wrong clue. This meant we were trying to solve something that was, at that moment in the game, unsolvable. And that’s how he left us for the remainder of our game. We were literally given the answer we needed with a few minutes remaining, but it was too little too late. After establishing the fact that he had been making us work towards the wrong hint, the host didn’t offer an apology. Instead, he shooed us out of the room for the next game.

 

Mise-en-scene

It looked like an industrial kitchen/warehouse with its lofty ceiling and large, drug-synthesising apparatus. But it was nothing to get overly excited about.

 

Final Comments
I’ve never had a host ruin a game like this one did. He was totally disinterested.

Played: 12/03/20 Team size: 2 Time taken: 59:26 Outcome: Successful escape!

A Lil Ritual

My last visit to Escape Reality (until they open a new room) and, with a full loyalty card, this game was free!
Story
Rumours about strange chanting in the forest leads you to a cabin in the woods. Once inside, the door locks and members of a cult surround it. Escape before they can sacrifice you as part of their ritual. Classic dumb-teenagers-in-a-horror-film behaviour.

Puzzles

The very first one had us absolutely stumped, which is unlike us. It was on the confusing side. Once that one was out of the way, we were up running, save for a couple more clues. It was a rudimental series of spoopy (spooky but cute) puzzles, with one or two making use of the gloomy atmosphere.

Mise-en-scene

This room had the feel of the witch’s cottage from Hansel and Gretel, with its beguiling furnishes and abundance of little knick-knacks and articles. The dim lighting contributed to the ominous vibe.  

Final Comments
We got out with less than a minute left on the clock. This isn’t the best room Escape Reality has to offer, but it certainly isn’t the worst. Ritual feels like it has been crammed into a spare utility room to monetise the extra space. Take no more than a team of four.

Played: 05/09/20 Team size: 2 Time taken: ~57:00 Outcome: Successful escape!

Not Quite Out of This World
I visited this Sheffield room over others as it was the only to accept student discount (20%) on a weekend.
Story
Infiltrate an ‘experimental prison ship’ and steal a bio sample before aliens get you.

Puzzles
They lacked a clear theme, varying from astronomy to chemistry and…shapes? A technological/machine-operating element was present throughout the whole game. This was fun at first, but got a little tedious by the end. They were of intermediate difficulty- we required a pointer on a couple of occasions.

Mise-en-scene
The most disappointing aspect. This room felt bare, and looked absolutely nothing like a prison ship. The overall design was stark and tacky, especially the “suggestion of a previous grisly event” which looked a bit like a primary school art project.

Final Comments
We got out with a few minutes to spare- there probably would have been ten minutes or more left on the timer had we not made a silly mistake with the final puzzle (neither of us realised we had already solved it- our fault!). Deep Space Brig was okay, and I wouldn't mind trying out the other upcoming rooms. However, I'd also be tempted to pay full price and visit one of the more central escape room companies next time.

Played: 01/02/2020 Team size: 5 Time taken: 50:00 Outcome: Successful escape!

A Victorious Viking Venture!
This marked my first visit to Escape Hunt: I was saving it for when I had a big group coming to keep costs down.
Story
Summon the Norse gods for their protection against the Ice Giants who are on their way to destroy your village. NB: I really like this storyline: simple, creative and adventuresome with a clear goal!

Puzzles
We were all stumped at first- the first puzzle must have taken us ten minutes- but with a couple of hints, we then powered through. There were one or two occasions where it was almost a tad too unclear what needed to be done. However, it seemed to gradually get easier: we made light work of the final tasks. The puzzles were entirely (and appropriately) practical, making it the most hands-on room I’ve ever done so far. Vikings wouldn’t have been involved with number-crunching or word games! The game was very linear, perhaps too much so for a group of 5. We were all often huddled around the same thing, so I'd recommend a smaller group for this one.

Mise-en-scene
The room was thoughtfully decked out like a Viking cabin. There were ‘proper’ props e.g. metal helmets, furniture and tools to appreciate. A lack of traditional number locks in favour of other means of progressing fitted in nicely with the Nordic setting.

Final Comments
We broke out with ten minutes to spare. This room scores highly in all three of my sub-categories!

Played: 30/01/20 Team size: 2 Time taken: 46:38 Outcome: Successful escape!

Shop Til You Drop (Dead)
My final of four rooms in the same day. I couldn't have handled any more- my brain was mush!
Story
Searching an abandoned shop for supplies during a zombie apocalypse, the undead have been alerted to your presence. Break out before they break in!

Puzzles
A wide variety; some in particular tied in perfectly to the environment, and this was maintained throughout our puzzling journey. We needed hints for one or two of them.

Mise-en-scene
Brilliant! It had everything your nearest corner shop has, as well as all the added touches to make it look apocalyptically-ransacked. The lack of lighting heightened the sense of danger, as did the nearby zombie moans. Every major and minor details was covered.

Final Comments
We got out of this one with fourteen minutes to spare. It was an enjoyable room with the odd tense moment that would probably be enjoyed more in a group of four.

Played: 30/01/20 Team size: 2 Time taken: 51:12 Outcome: Successful escape!

Habitual Heisting
Having broken out of our first two rooms in good time- both four start difficulty- our GO told us he would be more reserved when it came to giving out clues since this one is a three-star.
Story
You’re robbers pulling off your most daring heist ever, raiding the vault of an esteemed treasury.

Puzzles
The sort of puzzles I would expect to see in a bank-themed room, although some were generic. They were far more challenging with no help!

Mise-en-scene
It wasn’t very bank-like. Instead, it was a bit plain and office-y. Yes, there was a vault, but ‘legendary’ is an overstatement. Overall, I’d describe it as unambitious…the space this game is currently in could be used for a far more exciting and original storyline/setting.

Final Comments
Just give me a sec while I go put the stolen riches with my rubies/gems/diamonds I’ve taken from all the other escape room’s vaults. If you’re coming to Breakout Liverpool, put this near the bottom of your list of games to play.

Played: 30/01/20 Team size: 2 Time taken: 48:36 Outcome: Successful escape!

A Cheeky Bit of Time Travel
My second of four rooms as part of a full day of escaping at Breakout Liverpool.
Story
A science boffin of a friend has invited you to check out her time machine. However, when you turn up, she’s nowhere to be seen…this results in you using the invention to find her stuff she’s left in the past, or something along those lines.

Puzzles
This room did a good job of incorporating items specific to the time you were in for completing things. The puzzles themselves were fundamentally textbook: there was nothing unexpected. I’d seen them all before, which obviously isn’t a problem, it’s just that there was nothing there to wow a more experienced escaper.

Mise-en-scene
Ever changing! As you travel through time, each zone represents a particular period, although some were more distinguishable than others. Music and props mostly alluded to the point in history we were in, though sometimes they struck me as being irrelevant- or non-existent.

Final Comments
We broke out with just over ten minutes to spare. It’s disappointing when a story is left unresolved, and it wouldn’t take much time/effort to wrap it up in one way or another.

Played: 30/01/20 Team size: 2 Time taken: 43:51 Outcome: Successful escape!

Birthday Breakout
I came to Breakout Liverpool on my birthday for a whole day of escaping (I played four rooms altogether).
Story
Sneak into a wizarding school reunion to retrieve a missing magical artefact before you’re discovered. NB: The GO added that the recognition spell we cast wears off after an hour- this makes sense, so I’d stick that on the website, too.

Puzzles
A fairly challenging series of activities to complete. A lot of deducing had to be done but finding some of the locks proved to be a puzzle within itself for us! There was one task I can imagine a lot of people lose their heads over. The odd ‘magical’ puzzle was thrown in, but, based on the room’s premise, there should have been more of this type.

Mise-en-scene
The quaint, old-fashioned classroom complete with wooden desks, big bookshelves and a blackboard was a highlight. It’s a shame that it peaked here; without revealing anything, more could be done design-wise with what follows.

Final Comments
We broke out with just under fifteen minutes to spare, so don’t take a large team for this one. It was indeed a good room, there’s potential to really make this one standout.

Played: 25/01/20 Team size: 6 Time taken: 57:11 Outcome: Successful escape!

My Hometown's First Escape Room

When Escape Rooms Beverley opened, I had to come home to find out what it's like, starting with their more difficult challenge.

Story
Escape an autopsy before the killer scientist comes back to finish the job. So, your average, SAW-esque storyline. One of the team is 'kidnapped', but the task involved to reunite the taken member is so easy, it renders the whole act pointless, really.

Puzzles
One 'gory' practical puzzle chimed in with the theme, but, other than that, they screamed (or rather spoke) simple, generic death. Shine some UV here, solve the riddle there. Rudimentary. We needed one or two subtle hints, but then there were also a couple of occasions where we needed a shove in the right direction, rather than a gentle push!

Mise-en-scene
It was a bare, dank dwelling...killer scientist's hideaway, sure, but nothing to get overly excited or spooked out about. They had mortuary cabinets- but then they also had pound shop body parts. The set-up for the finale sadly fell flat.

Final Comments
With a title like Autopsy, I was hoping for more than just another run-from-the-mad-murderous-scientist escapade. However, as a company that's just starting out, Escape Room Beverley's more difficult room proved to be a fun family challenge on the whole.

Played: 23/01/2020 Team size: 2 Time taken: 44:06 Outcome: Successful escape!

Fairy Tale Findings

As this room has a medium difficulty rating, I just brought one other person for the challenge.

Story

Transported from a library to a witch’s gingerbread house in a faraway fairytale land, escape before she returns and eats you. NB: Our GO said we were in the ‘restricted’ section of the library, apparently…

Puzzles

There’s so much to find in this one, meaning once or twice- much to our chagrin- we had to be given a nod in the right direction! Apart from one or two anomalies, the puzzles took fitting inspiration from the Brothers Grimm and similar authors. I enjoyed the variety of locks to crack- there was pretty much one of every single type- and the assembly/procedure of the final puzzle struck both of us as being very impressive. In the reset prior to our game, one of the boxes was left unlocked…luckily, this was associated with one of the earlier puzzles, and didn’t cause us too much confusion.

Mise-en-scène

In this smallish space, the petite wooden furniture, cabinets crammed with artefacts and other décor gave it a beguiling, olde-worlde atmosphere; it would definitely pass for a fairy tale witch’s cottage in the deep, dark forest. However, I’ve never seen so many ‘Do Not Touch’ stickers!

Final Comments

This was a solid three-star room. Were it not for our subpar searching skills, we’d have probably got out in record time.

Played: 19/01/2020 Team size: 4 Time taken: 47:34 Outcome: Successful escape!

Sorcery on a Sunday!

I came here for my final (at least for now) Lucardo challenge with a few friends.

Story

Secure your place at the University of Magic by finding a wand and mixing a potion.

Puzzles

There were some truly unique, ‘magical’ tasks closely related to the theme/story. We required two or three hints, but none of them were overly complicated. The previous group had written the answer to the penultimate puzzle down, and this wasn’t rubbed off prior to us going in. While we still effectively solved it, the information we shouldn’t have had made it obvious we were doing it correctly. Since the answer didn’t become accessible until right near the end, it wasn’t too big a deal.

Mise-en-scène

A quirky, close-packed room that utilised every inch of available space for brooms, wands, quills, creatures and potions. I identified a fair few of Poundland’s Halloween wares as props, but if you don’t know, some of them do look authentic. There was one item that struck me as impressively Harry Potter-esque, but not quite as interactive as it perhaps should have been. As a whole, the room did feel part of an immersive, wizarding world.

Final Comments

An impersonal brief was saved by another bouncy Game Operator who welcomed us into the room in-character. I wouldn’t take more than 4 people, or else you’ll be struggling for puzzles to solve.

Played: 30/12/2019 Team size: 6 Time taken: 55:16 Outcome: Successful escape!

U Okay, Nun?

Another escape with my family, and my second visit to Take the Exit.

Story

Investigate the abandoned chapel and the mysteries behind the Sisters' deaths.

Puzzles

There were broad themes of religion, magic and folklore attached to the puzzles. It was great how different members of our teams contributed to different solutions. There was a good, albeit basic mix.

Mise-en-scène

Effort was made, but the surroundings had more of a generic, spooky attic feel to them. More could have been in place to amplify a haunted chapel ambience. Once again, opportunities to include scares were overlooked. There were parts of the room I observed and thought 'Ooh, this is going to be frightening' that didn't amount to anything.

Final Comments

It was definitely trickier than Doll House, but we only needed one hint, and that was for something we'd already worked out. There's lots to do, so six didn't actually feel too large a group for this one.

Played: 29/12/2019 Team size: 5 Time taken: 44:36 Outcome: Successful escape!

Museum Mosey

Another room with links to the local area- great!

Story

You're on the night shift at Hull's History Museum but your colleague has disappeared...um, so I think you just had to get out? I'm still none the wiser having played the game.

Puzzles

The vast majority were to do with ships (I expand on this in the next section). A bit of teamwork was needed at the start, after which our group was reunited to crack on with the rest. We needed a couple of hints, but the last part of the game was certainly the easiest compared to some of the preceding tasks. I took an educated guess for one of the puzzles; when I was shown the proper way to work it out, it made sense but seemed a bit too inconspicuous. Information in the game is provided by a local historian, which is a lovely touch.

Mise-en-scène

It was a museum, yes, but...a nautical one. The finer details such as an opening plaque and donations box were included, and the paintings, models and other objects on display were authentic...but they were entirely ship-related. I understand that Hull has a rich maritime history, but, from the title, I was expecting to be solving puzzles in a dark, gruesome and sombre set of exhibits. There was a mere trickle of this genre shoved in. Two of us being locked in the caretaker's closet at the start was my highlight, but this doesn't say much about the rest of the room.

Final Comments

'The Darker Side of Hull' is a misleading title. However, if you want a fun, agreeable escape, take a team of three.

Played: 28/11/2019 Team size: 2 Time taken: ~45:00 Outcome: Successful escape!

Pedestrian Puzzling

My second room as part of a double bill at The Escape Room (I tackled Slaughterhouse first). It should be noted that, on my visit, the venue was undergoing renovations.

Story

Escape the haunted hotel before the spirits get you.

Puzzles

The introduction was frustratingly confusing: we needed a hint to be told where the game actually started. After this, the pair of us were on our way and escaped with plenty of time left on the clock. We did some banal counting, searching and decoding. Meh.

Mise-en-scène

I appreciated the darkness aspect of this room, but, other than that, the scenery, props and ambience were tame. Only the corridor felt hotel-like. The 'flick a switch and a Game Operator will come to help' must be the worst hint system ever, as it totally took us out of the experience.

Final Comments

As I mentioned in my Slaughterhouse review, these rooms are not worth paying full price for. If another good Black Friday deal comes up, I'll return to do the other two rooms then! In the meantime, don't bother.

Played: 28/11/2019 Team size: 2 Time taken: ~45:00 Outcome: Successful escape!

Grotty...

The Escape Room did a Black Friday deal, reducing the price from £20.00 to £13.00 per person. I booked Slaughterhouse and Room 13 back to back.

Story

Escape a serial killer's lair by passing their series of tests. Been there, done that, got the blood-stained t-shirt.

Puzzles

The first puzzle had us stumped for a while, but then the rest were money for old rope. There wasn’t a huge variety of challenges: pretty much all of them involved finding a numerical code of some sort. That being said, there was one directional lock, but the equipment needed to solve it was very frayed which made life unnecessarily difficult. All of the UV writing/usable clues could have done with a new lick of paint, because a lot of them were old, faded, run-down and therefore hard to utilise.

Mise-en-scène

Shoddy. There was a (literal) cupboard full of rubber limbs as well as unrealistic bodies that made me feel like I was in the dimly-lit horror section of a fancy dress shop. 

Final Comments

We got out with around a quarter of the time left and having used no clues. Don't pay £20.00 per person for this room. You'd be ripping yourself off.

Played: 30/10/2019 Team size: 4 Time taken: ~50:00 Outcome: Successful escape!

How Many Hints?!

I took advantage of another Groupon to get this room at a good price.

Story

A radiation leak forced you into this bunker, where you've been living for years. It's safe to return up top, but now you're locked in and oxygen levels are critically low. Escape before the last sixty minutes of breathable air runs out.

Puzzles

Far too samey; almost all of them involved finding combinations of numbers, which doesn't strike as being creative enough given the storyline. There was an incredibly misleading red herring that can only be described as stupid. One puzzle and its solution were far too tenuously linked for you to know what to do. My biggest gripe, though, was the amount of hints that were being thrown left, right and centre at us. Despite our team being engaged in trying to solve puzzles, the giveaway messages came through thick and fast.

Mise-en-scène

It did feel like a bunker, but I suppose giving compact underground shelter vibes isn't too demanding a task. The damp smell was probably the most realistic part. There was a pointless, unwarranted crawling part that didn't contribute anything to the experience.

Final Comments

At least it was cheap.

Played: 28/10/2019 Team size: 4 Time taken: ~55:00 Outcome: Successful escape!

Humdrum...

Back in Blackpool, I used Visit Blackpool's online discount code for another 15% off.

Story

Investigate whether one of your fellow spies is a double agent working on behalf of Russia or not by exploring his flat before he returns. 

Puzzles

They were varied, but some didn't feel all that relevant to the story. Others felt very non-specific: these puzzles could appear in literally any other room. We somehow skipped the use of an item that later caused us confusion. Since some were difficult (including a totally random, tedious jigsaw) there were times we were at a complete loss. Rather than being offered a clue, we were left to be confused/frustrated/bored. Then, when a hint did come through, we were pretty much just given the answer.

Mise-en-scène

Bland and unimaginative. If it was meant to be the flat of MI6's most senior agent, there should have been plenty of exciting features...

Final Comments

While I'm not saying players are entitled to hints whenever they want them, it's annoying when you're standing in front of the camera clearly asking for help but receiving no response. This gave me the impression that our game wasn't being watched. Our victory didn't feel well-deserved, and we all left feeling apathetic.

Played: 19/09/2019 Team size: 2 Time taken: ~40:00 Outcome: Successful escape!

The Most Relaxed Escape, Ever...

Story

Lost in space and believed to be dead, the commander has left Mars without you. Get back to Earth safely by reactivating your shuttle.

Puzzles

Disappointingly easy. Sure, some took a bit longer to figure out than others, but we didn't use any hints. At one point, because of the relaxing music playing, I sat down to casually work some of them out. I have never felt so laid back in an escape room.

Mise-en-scène

A tiny pod with machinery along the walls and no props...a little too basic.

Final Comments

It would probably be more fun to do this room as a race against another team, since there is a replica of it next door. Otherwise, I can't say I'd recommend it.

Played: 01/09/2019 Team size: 2 Time taken: 42:07 Outcome: Successful escape!

Cursed? More Like Cute...

I went for this room as I like a spooky challenge. Little did I know...

Story

Return to the cursed carnival to rescue a doll possessed by a girl...or is that a girl trapped in a doll? Even so, our Game Operator said our mission was to find said doll to sell it on the black market. Who knows.

Puzzles

Straightforward, standard solving with the odd carnival game or two thrown in.

Mise-en-scène

There were plenty of circus-themed articles, but none had been given the horror twist I expected. The Hall of Mirrors was a highlight.

Final Comments

We bossed it as a team of two. No one else is needed. In relation to 'Cursed', the name is very inaccurate, but as for 'Carnival', it's spot on. The difficulty rating should be two stars, not three. Overall, a chilled and amusing room.

Played: 30/07/2019 Team size: 6 Time taken: 42:38 Outcome: Successful escape!

No Need to Panic...

My second visit to Clue HQ as they did a good value '6 play for £60' offer.

Story

Find out who managed to kill a wealthy businessman inside his personal Panic Room.

Puzzles

They were very discernible; it was easy to see what you had to do and when. Although there were one or two difficult physical puzzles, it would have been too easy without them. Most involved a fair bit of working out, but as a team of six, this was no problem, especially as we could split up.

Mise-en-scène

Not great. It was techy-looking and appeared very similar to Detonation, just with different props/equipment in there. Although the victim is described as a businessmen, the 'body' looked like a young chavvy teenager (I'm sure he was wearing trainers).

Final Comments

It wasn't a particularly exciting escape experience. A team of six was too big- take about four people.

Played: 08/07/2019 Team size: 3 Time taken: ~50:00 Outcome: Successful escape!

Absconding from Alcatraz

This was my third prison-themed room, but I'm always willing to see how different companies present them.

Story

As convicted criminals, your fellow inmates have created a distraction, giving you one hour to escape before the warden comes back.

Puzzles

Somewhat traditional: a bit of counting, some arithmetic, a dash of practical. Teamwork was important, but only at the very start. As three decent players, we worked well together and didn't struggle on much.

Mise-en-scène

The cells were credible...I wasn't particularly wowed by anything beyond that point.

Final Comments

This room doesn't deserve more than a three-star rating. When compared to Lucardo's The Prison, it shows there are definitely some missed opportunities!

Played: 10/06/2019 Team size: 4 Time taken: 54:25 Outcome: Successful escape!

Fugitives!

I was excited to try Lucardo's newest room. In our brief, we were advised that there would only be one code to solve, and all the other puzzles would be hands-on...interesting!

Story

As convicted criminals, your fellow inmates are staging a riot, giving you one precious hour to escape. A common storyline, but executed brilliantly. Wait to see how it unfolds during your endeavours!

Puzzles

They were all practical, encouraging us to think like prisoners, utilising whatever tools were at our disposal. We struggled with a couple of them: without locks to work out codes for, sometimes it was tricky to ascertain what to do next. This kept us guessing and thinking creatively, though!

Mise-en-scène

The journey was impressively portrayed as a real prison-break through the equipment, clothing, props and decor. It was delivered like a piece of immersive theatre. Very, very good!

Final Comments

This was a funny, inventive and engaging room. Highly recommended!

Played: 27/05/2019 Team size: 5 Time taken: 50:17 Outcome: Successful escape!

Chasing Crooks

Another escape with family, and my mother's first, though she was only in it for the photo at the end!

Story

Having received intel on notorious criminal Danny Badd's current location, try to catch him...but don't get blown up. 'Danny Badd' seems to be a recurring character throughout Clue HQ's games.

Puzzles

Easy-peasy, though there was one physical challenge that was practically impossible. I was applying a lot of knowledge from my past escapes, and so none of the puzzles here felt all that original. A hint was needed for the final challenge, but it was a 'blink and you miss it' kind of moment.

Mise-en-scène

I'm not sure where we were actually supposed to be. 'Rooms with puzzles in' is accurate, so don't expect to be transported to a criminal mastermind's hideout.

Final Comments

Nothing to write home about. An ideal room for newbies.

Played: 23/04/2019 Team size: 3 Time taken: 60:00 Outcome: Failed :-(

Stop That Launch!

I was supposed to tackle this as a team of four, but someone dropped out last minute. As it's a five-star room, I went in with low hopes of breaking out.

Story

Save the world by stopping a missile strike.

Puzzles

Hard, with a capital H! Although we cracked some of them quickly, others had us completely stumped. They were army-themed, and a couple of practical tasks were involved to spice things up a bit. One of them stood out as particularly novel to me. Clues weren't coming when we needed them, but even so, we'd have needed many more to get out.

Mise-en-scène

'Enemy territory' was uninspired. As mentioned, the puzzles and props contributed to a military environment, but  it was otherwise a basic office.

Final Comments

We were at least four puzzles away from success. Take your best team for this room.

Played: 12/03/2019 Team size: 2 Time taken: ~50:00 Outcome: Successful escape!

Do You Want to Play (Another) Game?

With its half-price student deal, you can't keep me away from Escape Reality for very long.

Story

Escape a serial killer's lair by passing their series of tests. The ol' SAW storyline. Oddly, the picture on the website made me thought it's a pirate game, what with the skeleton and chains.

Puzzles

Intermediate difficulty. It did take us a bit of time to get going, but after that we were pretty much on our way. They used the sort of paraphernalia you'd expect to work with in this type of game. One or two appeared similar to puzzles I've tackled in their previous rooms.

Mise-en-scène

I liked the 'captured' situation we started off in. It had the feel of a dingy, grimy lair with sparse lighting and big, disconcerting props to interact with...definitely a place where a serial killer would store victims. Regretfully, though, there were plenty of cheap rubber limbs hanging about to remind me it's just a game.

Final Comments

A decent, slightly creepy challenge for two (not 'scary'). Take a couple more people for just as much fun.

Played: 26/02/2019 Team size: 2 Time taken: ~50:00 Outcome: Successful escape!

More Bank Bustin’

This was another occasion where I introduced a newbie to the wonderful world of escape rooms. He’s since been hooked, and so this one must have done a good job of enthralling him!

Story

Steal a big shiny diamond from a bank.

Puzzles

There was lot of calculating and translating numbers into codes, as well as a couple more interactive puzzles. A fun mixture.

Mise-en-scène

There was a very lifelike and absorbing start and finish to this room, lending a sense of flow and progression to fit in with the story. From the big main features such as furniture and room layout, to the minor details like the smallest props, this room was on the money in terms of design.

Final Comments

Four-stars is a fair difficulty rating, but this room could be enjoyed as a pair or in a group of three to four. Another diamond to add to my collection.

Played: 23/02/2019 Team size: 4 Time taken: ~55:00 Outcome: Successful escape!

Asylum Adventure

My Uni Fam had come to visit, and so it was time for another escape together.

Story

Having sneaked into a closed-down asylum and gotten lost while searching for any spirits floating about…get back out before they capture you. If you want to experience being the star of a horror film centred around stereotypically dumb teenage protagonists, I guess this is your chance.

Puzzles

None really stood out to me. They were your standard selection, and mostly observational.

Mise-en-scène

Only the final section lived up to the room’s title, providing the padded cell surroundings you’d expect to see throughout. Although the rest was still equally immersive, it was simply mild, non-specific horror.

Final Comments

I accidentally terrified one of my friends during the final puzzle, which really made us laugh. If you’re after a frightening challenge, there are scarier ones out there. That being said, it was a solid four-star room that we all enjoyed beating.

Played: 16/02/2019 Team size: 4 Time taken: 42:58 Outcome: Successful escape!

Plight of the Thespians

Two of my favourite games have been provided by Locked In Leeds, and so I was very excited when they opened up a York branch!

Story

You’re a group of actors locked in the dressing room, and the show is an hour from starting. Quirky? Yes. Believable? Not really…

Puzzles

Uncomplicated, with apt nods to musicals. I didn’t really get the irrelevant film references, though. The final puzzle, a practical challenge, was far too difficult. We were encouraged by our Game Operator to cheat, which made for a dissatisfying ending.

Mise-en-scène

No where near as breath-taking as Leeds, sadly. This was just a room with wigs thrown in.

Final Comments

We had a laugh, but, from an experienced escapee’s point of view, this poor performance of a room deserves the hook.

Played: 23/12/2018 Team size: 3 Time taken: 47:54 Outcome: Successful escape!

Dolls…So Many Dolls!

Then-marketed as Hull’s scariest escape rooms, I was excited to tackle the Doll House with my two friends from home.

Story

Investigate the disappearance of Lucy Mason. The website description leaves much to be desired.

Puzzles

They were all relatively straightforward; we breezed through a lot of them. The odd puzzle had us scratching our chins for a bit, but we only needed a single hint. A fair bit of searching had to be done, which was made challenging in this dimly lit room (but not to an unreasonable extent). It’s classed as ‘medium’ difficulty on the website, which is an accurate rating.

Mise-en-scène

Great! Although it wasn’t exactly clear where we were, the room was other-worldly. I genuinely felt tense when finding my way around the daunting collection of old, cobwebby, broken dolls. We could have been in somebody’s nightmare. There was only one actual ‘scare’, though, but it didn’t get me (honest!)

Final Comments

The ending to the story was anti-climactic. This room can be done as a pair but three certainly wasn’t a crowd!

Played: 18/12/2018 Team size: 3 Time taken: 59:57 Outcome: Successful escape!

Bank Burglary

As I’d enjoyed my previous visits to Lucardo, it was soon time for another!

Story

Steal a big shiny diamond from a bank. Heists may be like the most common escape room scenario ever, but hey, some have got to be them!

Puzzles

There were many visuals, and lots of things to be implemented. We all really liked one of the last tasks…just like a calculated criminal, be mindful of what could be of use around you!

Mise-en-scène

The big counter almost entirely contributed to making the surroundings feel like the inside of a bank. The other furniture and props were good and right, though.

Final Comments

Escaping with three seconds to spare meant for a very stressful final challenge, but we made it! A team of three to four is ideal for this one.

Played: 10/12/2018 Team size: 2 Time taken: ~50:00 Outcome: Successful escape!

Incarrrrrrrrcerated

Land-ho! Another pirate-themed room! One of my favourites.

Story

As Captain of the Mariposa, your crew have formed a mutiny and locked you in the ship’s prison. Break out and search Tortuga Island for Derdrake’s treasure to break a curse that will turn you into a spectre in an hour’s time. I really like this creative plot, especially the mutiny.

Puzzles

A selection of fun, pirate-y and, overall, not very difficult puzzles, making the room more than suitable for beginners. A hint from the tablet literally gave us the answer to one we were struggling with, which I disliked.

Mise-en-scène

All the sights and sounds of the sea (and sand) from a pirate’s perspective. Tortuga Island was perhaps a bit bare, but I did get desert island vibes.

Final Comments

A victory was clinched with some time to spare.

Played: 08/12/2018 Team size: 6 Time taken: 46:00 Outcome: Successful escape!

The Graveyard Shift

This is the first game I’ve played where you get less than an hour to escape. You only get 50 minutes instead, and there was no screen to track progress of time which always frustrates me. I got 15% off with my Escape Game Card.

Story

Enter The Underworld and retrieve its secrets as well as an object to prevent some secret society from taking over the world…? Too ambiguous and confusing a storyline, if you ask me. It also involved choosing characters to gain abilities e.g. 5 minutes extra time, an additional torch, etc. This was overkill for me.

Puzzles

They were mostly tricky and varied, with symbols to translate and riddles to solve. Teamwork played a big part as you progressed.

Mise-en-scène

When hearing ‘underworld’, I picture a vast dystopian landscape swarmed by beasts, whereas this was an unoccupied, compact graveyard. A convincing one, though! It was a little too dark, making one or two props trip hazards. I liked the action that had to be taken to lead you to the next section of this room.

Final Comments

We needed those extra five minutes to escape. Even though the puzzles leaned towards the more difficult end of the spectrum, Underworld wasn’t really big enough for a team of six. 

Played: 07/11/2018 Team size: 3 Time taken: 53:18 Outcome: Successful escape!

Over Enemy Lines

Another wartime operation, and my third visit to Lucardo.

Story

Infiltrate an enemy bunker to retrieve classified documents stolen from The War Office, but get the job done before the guards change.

Puzzles

They maintained a connection to the theme of the room throughout and ranged from child’s play to one that was fiendishly difficult without the help of a hint!

Mise-en-scène

Decent props, mundane surroundings. A bit of camo netting wasn’t enough to sell me WW2 bunker realness.

Final Comments

One of Lucardo’s weaker rooms. It’s generic and unremarkable, but we still had a good time. Our group didn’t pay as much as this on our visit, but is it worth the current price tag of £25.00 per person? Absolutely not.

Played: 02/11/2018 Team size: 3 Time taken: ~55:00 Outcome: Successful escape!

Gimme Back My Grimoire!

The VisitBlackpool website usually has discount codes for Escape Room Centre, so do check it out before you book. I got 20% off this game.

Story

Investigate a mansion and retrieve The Grimoire, an ancient book of spells, from thieves before they use it to summon evil spirits.

Puzzles

As part of our brief, we were advised that this room is very observational. This is absolutely spot on, so if there comes a time when you feel like you’ve searched everywhere…think again. Oddly, while there were many tricky puzzles to solve at first, this room got easier as we progressed. We still needed a handful of hints, though. One or two puzzles were very creative in their methods of solving them!

Mise-en-scène

This game actually takes place in the building's attic, which adds to the immersion. Since it's fairly dark, be careful when handling things, as I injured myself (just a finger, but still). I was spooked, which is exactly how I should have been made to feel.

Final Comments

I'd recommend tackling it as a team of three or four. I love the collectible coins given out as prizes for escaping- a cool little gift
Played: 30/10/2018 Team size: 2 Time taken: 56:55 Outcome: Successful escape!

A Hair-Raising Hospital

A horror-themed room seemed appropriate for this time of year!

Story

As part of a SWAT team, investigate the whereabouts of missing PC Richards, who may have last been seen at a seemingly abandoned hospital.

Puzzles

A fine mixture, and accurate level of difficulty for the four-star rating (NB: it's now been increased to five-star, so may have changed since my attempt). There wasn't anything to blow your mind; it was rudimentary puzzle-solving.

Mise-en-scène

Inexact. I'd accept the escape room trope of 'serial killer's lair', but apart from a steel gurney and one or two other bits, it had nothing else that correlated with a disused hospital or its corridors.

Final Comments

If we were part of a SWAT team then surely our weapons would have made us feel safe. Either way, this was a fairly spine-chilling challenge that made me feel a little suspenseful at times. Take a team of four to blitz it, go as a pair for more of a challenge.

Played: 30/09/2018 Team size: 5 Time taken: ~55:00 Outcome: Successful escape!

Uni Fam Takes on the Blitz

Who would have thought Yarm has an escape room?!

Story

Gain access to Agent LoneWolf's sealed away, Nazi Super Code-busting work to prevent a Luftwaffe bombing raid and escape to safety.

Puzzles

The puzzles were varied and required a lot of different skills and senses, but they all ultimately led to finding three/four digit codes. Some contrasting locks would have been appreciated- a directional at the very least.

Mise-en-scène

A compact, cute WW2-themed room. There was no feeling of threat or danger; it felt like a tame museum exhibit. This therefore didn't engross me in the story.

Final Comments

Despite its smallness, we were able to split up to simultaneously work on tasks. As there are a lot of them, I'd recommend a team of about 4.

Played: 20/09/2018 Team size: 2 Time taken: ~59:00 Outcome: Successful escape!

Egyptian Escape

Escape Reality is my favourite company in Manchester, not only because of the 50% student discount Mon-Thurs, but all of their rooms are well-developed.

Story

Steal precious treasure from the Ancient Pyramids, but get out of there before you're trapped forever.

Puzzles

Good fun, with the right links to Ancient Egyptian culture. One or two of them were clunky, though, and so we suffered a technical fault or two. I have to say, I'm not a big fan of scanning stickers using a tablet to get hints. In darker spots, they're impossible to pick up. Although it can be good to remain in control of your own hint-distribution and they don't usually give the answers away, a Game Operator would probably have a better idea on how much/little of a push in the right direction a team requires.

Mise-en-scène

Great. When entering, I felt like I was stepping into another world. It's an enchanting room with all the sand, mummies and sarcophagi you’d hope for in an Ancient Egyptian themed escape.

Final Comments

Take three or four people; as a team of two, we only just got out ;) 

Played: 03/09/2018 Team size: 2 Time taken: 59:48 Outcome: Successful escape!

Speedy Sleepy Sleuthing

I slipped in a visit to The Dream as, because it was closing, a 20% discount code was being offered.

Story

Get out of your dream with four winning lottery numbers before they're gone forever. And there was something about everything not being as it seems. Weird, but not in a bad way!

Puzzles

There was so much to do with just a team of two. A few we nailed with ease, but others took a lot more thinking (and the odd hint). I was grateful for my friend getting her head around the last one, because I struggled. A lot of visual-based puzzles in this room.

Mise-en-scène

Perplexing. Strange. Alice-in-Wonderland-esque. This was a very peculiar dream, one inspired by rubber ducks, upside down furniture, Simon Says and balls. Lots of balls. I didn't hate it, though!

Final Comments

The most stressful escape for me, ever! When I jumped out of the room, I accidentally left my friend behind in The Dream...whoops.

Played: 02/08/2018 Team size: 3 Time taken: 60:00 Outcome: Failed :-(

Code-breaking in Cyprus

This room looked the most interesting on their website, and so when I was on holiday with family, we decided to sneak in an escape room for one of our evening's activities.

Story

Captured by a serial killer- the Zodiac- escape before he comes back and kills you. I thought he might have had ties to Cyprus, but it doesn't seem that way. So it's just your usual escape-the-mad-man game...but the madman is named.

Puzzles

Several were practical, which I liked. A couple had very tenuous links, especially one towards the end. There was nothing to suggest what two things you had to use together. That being said, it had some of the most innovative features centred around puzzles that I've ever seen in an escape room. I was incredibly impressed.

Mise-en-scène

It had a slight feel of a serial killer's lair, but it wasn't scary. He had air conditioning.

Final Comments

Running out of time on the final puzzle is always disappointing, but I am still in total awe of the clever characteristics this room utilised.

Played: 14/07/2018 Team size: 5 Time taken: ~55:00 Outcome: Successful escape!

Spooked in Stockport

This was another Groupon deal that I found, allowing five of us to play for £39.00. The walk in the dark to what can only be described as an abandoned saw mill certainly set us up for this eerie challenge!

Story

As a group of paranormal investigators, explore Crowley Manor to find out what happened to the previous team who went in there, never to return.

Puzzles

A decent variety of locks and puzzles, and there was an ongoing narrative that kept us on track. Certain pieces of information were difficult to read.

Mise-en-scène

The start to the game was sinister, and, due to the incredibly bewildering, unique hint system, I think we all were convinced the room was haunted! Dust is deliberately left in there to gather, which conveniently adds to the withered ambience. It was well-decorated and always had me on the edge.

Final Comments

The chaps who run the place were very chatty, and it was obvious they love what they do.

Played: 21/06/2018 Team size: 2 Time taken: ~65:00 Outcome: Failed :-(

On Death Row

I got a voucher for this room on Living Social. I can't turn down a deal!

Story

Banged up for a crime you didn't commit and sentenced to death, escape prison before you're sent to the electric chair.

Puzzles

Very tricky: I was heavily reliant on hints. I felt there may have been one or two that were impossible to solve without a nod in the right direction. The variety wasn't amazing, either. I'm not a fan of a surplus of maths-based problems...especially when you're not supplied with a pen and paper! I remember getting stumped on puzzle after puzzle, waiting for clues almost every time. I'm tempted to say this room was too hard.

Mise-en-scène

Including different sections of the escape (from the cell to the Green Mile to the electric chair) was a nice idea, but the execution (haha) could have been better. I was getting room-full-of-tacky-props vibes. I'm also not quite sure why we ended up in the electric chair room when our goal was to get out of jail.

Final Comments

Although our time was up, we were allowed to finish the room. This isn't one for small teams, and it's certainly not one for newbies.

Played: 21/06/2018 Team size: 3 Time taken: ~55:00 Outcome: Successful escape!

Lost the Plot

This was another trial-run I did with other new recruits when I was working for Tick Tock.

Story

Having survived a plane crash, reunite with your group and disable an electromagnet device to prevent your memories being wiped. Lost meets Memento, maybe? The set-up didn't really line up with the ultimate goal.

Puzzles

Although there wasn't an awful lot, we still had enough to be getting on with. Teamwork was crucial in the first part. The final puzzle took a lot of time and effort, and the components it used was very clever.

Mise-en-scène

The 'jungle' was lacklustre; a couple of the items inside were random, if not out of place. The electromagnet area was drab.

Final Comments

If the story isn't strong enough, it just seems like you've been thrown into a room to solve a few brainteasers and hopefully have a good time. Meh.

Played: 01/05/2018 Team size: 4 Time taken: ~40:00 Outcome: Successful escape!

Avast!

I'd been looking out for a pirate-themed challenge, and so when I came across this one on Groupon, I was very excited!

Story

Steal treasure from Blackbeard's ship.

Puzzles

A fair few nautical puzzles to crack, making good use of the props and scenery. Something went wrong, though (a technical fault), meaning we skipped a sizable portion of the room, hence the quick escape time.

Mise-en-scène

Marvellous! From the ceiling to the floorboards, consider my timbers shivered. Cannons, parrots, skeletons, swords, a ship's wheel...it had everything pirate-related you could possibly think of in there. I felt like a buccaneer at sea.

Final Comments

The theming really stood out to me, so top marks there. Unintentionally skipping puzzles is annoying, though.

Played: 30/04/2018 Team size: 2 Time taken: ~50:00 Outcome: Successful escape!

50s Blues (Prints)

In the spirit of being super-savvy, I got a Groupon voucher that let a team of two play for just over £10 each.

Story

Nip back to the 1950s, retrieve a blueprint for a hydrogen bomb and bring it back to the present day (after repairing the time portal). I think just finding the blueprint would have been enough of a mission without the convoluted time portal addition.

Puzzles

Practical, and a lot of fun. A keen eye was needed for this one. We needed the odd hint to point us in the right direction, but there was one part we were completely stumped on and (almost) had to have the answer spelled out to us.

Mise-en-scène

Another tiny space! While there were one or two cool, authentic props, I didn't feel like I was in the '50s. I was half-expecting/hoping for a jukebox. It was an unexciting, fusty study. 

Final Comments

Luckily, a team of two or three was fine for the number of puzzles; the room would have been too cramped with more than four. A nice challenge, but not one I could justify paying full price for.

Played: 24/04/2018 Team size: 3 Time taken: ~50:00 Outcome: Successful escape!

Exiting the Room for the Final Time

My third and last trip here: time to score one more dirt-cheap escape.

Story

Neutralise a nuclear bomb before it explodes by searching through a rogue agent's secret bunker. Our Game Operator gave us a completely different tale: invited to a card game by Russians, they've actually hidden a bomb in the building that must be diffused. I'm not a fan of inconsistency, just one story per room, please!

Puzzles

A good selection using co-ordinates and the like you'd expect to see in a cold war 'stop the bomb' type of game.

Mise-en-scène

ETR's strongest room in terms of props and decor: based on my last two visits, I was pleasantly surprised. There's still a bit of work to be done, though.

Final Comments

A team of 2-4 should suffice. Always check out Groupon and similar sites for Exit The Room's vouchers/deals.

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